Bert Tyldesley followed the fortunes of Bolton​ Wanderers through eight decades and kept a diary of his time in the terraces. With the kind permission of his family, we bring you his reflections on that journal, entitled: 75 Years a Wandering.

The Bolton News:

BY the time of Jimmy Armfield’s second season in charge of Bolton Wanderers, we had discovered there was just as much excitement, disappointment, elation and despondency in places like Oldham, Rochdale, York and Mansfield, just as we did at Anfield, Old Trafford and Maine Road.

Certainly in the first half of that season gave us much to cheer with the Wanderers slotting in three goals or more on several occasions to keep the six or seven thousand of us regulars happy. But strangely enough it is two games which do not fall into that category which stick in my mind from that time.

The first was a routine game played on a Wednesday night against Chesterfield – not highly-rated opposition who had given as good as they got and were grimly hanging on to a 0-0 score-line in time added on.

Wanderers were given a free kick halfway inside the Chesterfield half and all the Bolton players, bar Charlie Wright and Alan Waldron, who was taking the kick, crowded into the penalty box. With 19 of the 22 players waiting and shaping expectantly for the ball, young Alan contrived a floated shot which flew over all and sundry, nestling into the top corner of the net.

At full-time, and for a few days beyond, we walked around as if we had won the FA Cup, rather than beating a mid-table side by the skin of our teeth.

The second game was against Rotherham United on a cold November afternoon where a John Byrom goal had threatened to give us an undeserved share of the points at 1-1.

And then came an incident the likes of which I had never seen before.

An innocuous shot from Stuart Lee missed the Rotherham goal by some margin and was heading for the Great Lever Terrace when its progress was arrested by the goalkeeper, who gathered the ball, placed it in the corner of his six-yard box and retreated in preparation to take a goal kick.

As he did so, Garry Jones noticed that the linesman had not flagged for a goal kick, so, striding casually forward through the casual defenders, he placed the recumbent ball without effort or opposition into the net.

The amazement of the goalkeeper turned to outrage when he became aware that the referee was pointing to the centre spot, and had given a goal, having been assured by the linesman that the ball had been retrieved before it crossed the line.

The game was held up for several minutes as the poor goalkeeper was deemed in a fit mental state to continue but the goal stood and two more precious points were gained.

Almost four years later the young Rotherham keeper, who had aroused so much sympathy, signed for Bolton in a £10,000 deal. Between October 1976 and May 1980 he would appear in a club record 161 consecutive games – the lad, of course, was Jim McDonagh and what a purchase he proved to be.

As it happens, from the turn of 1973 – their promotion year – I kept my only-ever in-depth diary, some highlights I shall supply to you now.

17/1/1973: Cold and frosty night, icy pitch, nevertheless 21,000 there to see the Wanderers destroy Charlton 4-0 (Nicholson, Greaves 2, Garry Jones).

It is unbelievable to see the authority with which these lads now play. If the City vultures keep clear, this could be one of the great sides of the late seventies. Suspect Stuart Lee will be the number one target.

3/2/1973: Went to Bolton v Cardiff City in the FA Cup fourth round. David and Jack (my nephew and brother-in-law) left at 4.30pm for a party happy in the knowledge that Wanderers were leading 1-0. Just 15 minutes later at the final whistle the score was 2-2 and not only that, Warwick Rimmer and Gil Reece had been sent off, so they will have something of a surprise later in the evening.

10/2/1973: Bolton beat Grimsby Town before 10,588 spectators. Waldron scored direct from a corner and Garry Jones also scored. Five Grimsby players were booked – one for a foul, the goalkeeper for wasting time, and three for disputing the Waldron goal. Bolton go top.

17/2/1973: Lost 2-0 to Bournemouth and dropped below them in the table into second place.

20/2/1973: Went with Jan, Mike and Andy to Bolton v Charlton. Peter Nicholson, Paul Jones and Ronnie Phillips scored in a 3-0 win. We are now level with Bournemouth with a game in hand.

16/3/1973: Michael went to school camp at Cautley, reluctantly one might add, as it meant missing the football match the following day.

17/3/1973: Bolton 2 (John Byrom, Garry Jones) Rochdale 1. Wanderers now three points clear at the top but Garry Jones has been hurt (he missed the next five games).

24/3/1973: Drew against Southend 1-1 (Paul Jones) and retain a three-point lead at the top of the table.

28/3/1973: Lost at home for the first time in a year against Blackburn Rovers. Note: If anyone had told you in the street that 33,000 people would have crowded into Burnden on a cold Wednesday night to witness a Third Division game a few years earlier, you would have said they were mad.

13/4/1973: Friday night at Shrewsbury. John Byrom and Garry Jones scored. Now five points clear having played a game more.

16/4/1973: Stuart Lee hat-trick in a 3-0 win against Halifax Town.

21/4/1973: Bolton beat York City 3-0 (Lee 2, Nicholson) to clinch their first championship for 65 years.

28/4/1973: Michael, returning from Paris, landed promptly at Ringway at 1.10pm. Dropped mum off at the end of Lumber Lane and picked up Jan and Andy at Walkden Town Hall and Eddie at the Electricity Showrooms on Memorial Road and drove straight to bay 45 outside the Main Stand at Burnden Park. It was an indifferent match against Brentford but the Wanderers won 2-0 (Nicholson and Byrom) with 21,646 present. The cup was presented at the end of the game to the delight of Andy and Mike at the front of the Main Stand.